I was reading Philippians 1 with my wife the other day, where Paul talked about how he praised God that the gospel was spreading even though it was through people who preached with impure motives. (Philippians 1:15-18)
The implication being of course, that God can use people to spread his gospel and have it be effective even though these “ministers” will receive no reward at all.
But Paul not only preached the gospel, he was a genuine minister in every way. And we see that in this passage. We see that in his boldness in preaching, even in the midst of persecution (verse 2, but also see Acts 16-17). And when he taught, he taught accurately, not trying in any way to deceive or manipulate the Thessalonians, but with pure motives. (3, 5)
In short, he acted as someone who had been given a trust from God, and more than anything, he sought God’s approval above anyone else’s. (4, 6)
Sometimes Christians soft-pedal the word of God because they are afraid they might offend people. But Jesus offended people all the time by speaking the truth, particularly the Pharisees and other religious leaders. And he not only spoke of the love of God, but of the judgment to come for all who rejected him. (Matthew 7:21-23 and 25:31-46 among many other passages)
Paul picked up on the example of Jesus. He told the Ephesians,
Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God. (Acts 20:26-27)
Here he references Ezekiel 33 where God warned Ezekiel not to hold back on warning the people of God’s coming judgment, because if he did, God would hold Ezekiel responsible.
So Paul’s purpose whenever he preached the gospel was not to please people, but his Lord.
And yet, his heart for people was also very evident. He never demanded things of them as an apostle of Christ, abusing his authority with them. Rather he was gentle with them, willing to give up his very life for them. (7-8)
As a mother, he nursed them in their faith, and as a father, he worked hard for them so that they would not have to support him, but rather that he could support them. More, as a father, he encouraged, comforted, and urged them to live lives worthy of God. (6-12).
And as a spiritual parent, he was an example to them, living a life that was holy, righteous, blameless, and totally above approach.
That’s what a genuine minister should look like.
But before you start looking at these things and start judging you own pastor, look at yourself. You see, you are called to be a minister too. A minister to your family, to your friends, and to those around you. You are, as Paul put it, Christ’s ambassador to those God has put in your life. (2 Corinthians 5:20)
So the question is: are you a genuine minister of the gospel that God has entrusted to you?